Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has written a series of books that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies make the leap and others don’t; the enduring classic Built to Last, which discovers why some companies remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which uncovers the leadership behaviors for thriving in chaos and uncertainty. Jim has also published two monographs that extend the ideas in his primary books: Good to Great and the Social Sectors and Turning the Flywheel. His most recent publication is BE 2.0 (Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0), an ambitious upgrade of his very first book; it returns Jim to his original focus on small, entrepreneurial companies and honors his coauthor and mentor Bill Lazier.
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- Shortly before Jim’s 25th birthday, during his second year at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he got hit with a lightning bolt of WHO luck. The type of luck that comes as a chance meeting with a person who changes your life. That person was Bill Lazier…
- Bill Lazier was the closest thing to a father Jim ever had. Jim’s dad died when he was 23.
- Creating a Generosity Flywheel — “One day, two large wooden crates appeared on your front porch, the address labels indicating they’d be shipped by Bill. He sent you a few dozen bottles of spectacularly good wine. You called and asked him what prompted him to send to you and he said, “Dorothy and I had an inventory problem in our wine cellar, and we needed to make room for some new bottles. We thought you could help us out by taking some of it off our hands.” Bill mastered the art of getting people to accept his generosity, somehow framing it as if you were doing him a favor.
- Jim’s question to me: How is quarterbacking a football team similar to quarterbacking a conversation for a podcast?
- Make the Trust Wager – “I choose to assume the best in people and accept that they sometimes disappoint.” (Lead With Trust)
- Build a Meaningful Life by Building Relationships — Life can be a series of transactions or you can build relationships. Transactions can give you success, but inky relationships make for a great life.” —- How do you know if you have a great relationship? “If you were to ask each person in the relationship who benefits more from it, both would answer “I do.” Both feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.
- Start with Values, Always Values — values aren’t the “soft stuff.” Living to core values is the hard stuff.
- “Prep prep prep so that you don’t have to be rote.” — “For me the opening plays are questions. And I know the opening two or three questions to get the session started.”
- “Then the game starts. I have this set up things, but then something really surprising happens. What I found interesting about it, is that you’d think high levels of prep, it’s actually being so well prepared that you can adapt. That’s the critical thing. It’s only because you’re super prepared that you can do something surprising.”
- The opening question to a company he works with is always the same:
- “It starts at exactly 8:00am. I have an atomic clock and it’s set to the exact atomic time. At 8:00, I open the doors. I walk in and say, “Good morning, I feel a tremendous responsibility to make the most of our time. Everybody take out a blank sheet of paper. I want you to write down the top 5 most brutal facts that face the company today. Go!” — “We’re 12 seconds into the meeting. There are no pleasantries, they’re not going to talk about how the flight was, or dinner last night. We are here to make the most of our time. I’m trying to set the tone that we don’t have time to waste. I can’t waste your time. You’re here to have your brain challenged.”
- And then Jim has them allocate 100 points for the 5 most brutal facts.
- You need to start with an honest account of the brutal facts. This gets the group talking immediately. “The entire thing opens up.”
- “Preparation is respect.”
- “That previous podcast we did (episode #216) was masterfully done by Ryan. There’s some wonderful things he pulled out.” How has your style evolved?
- I’m less robotic, less formulaic, more agile, and able to go with the conversation.
- Bill Lazier — “Bill went to the Dean at Stanford and put himself on the line for me. He believed in me. He bet big on me. Nothing I’ve accomplished happens without Bill Lazier.”
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